NON-STOP RUMORS OF WAR – 15 Aug 2012

No day passes here in Israel without news about whether or not there will be an Israeli attack on Iran’s developing nuclear bomb facilities.  The United States continues its own diplomatic and political ‘wordfare’ on whether Israel could even succeed, and what the consequences of an Israeli initiative could bring to the world, and whether the U.S. would help Israel in the event of an outbreak of war. 

While Iran is given freedom to voice its intentions to wipe Israel off the map; while Syria continues to massacre its own people; while Egypt continues to advance a strict Islamic agenda and to opportunistically encroach in re-establishing control over the Sinai peninsula, threatening the terms of the Camp David peace agreement with Israel; while Israel is acting and reacting for what it  believes is basic survival, stessed out internally on whether to go it alone, or not to out of fear of failure, or whether her prime benefactor will back her up, could the God of Israel be sovereignly overseeing all things to bring His own chosen people and the nations to fear Him and give Him glory?  What if Israel does not strike first, but retaliates to an attack by one or more of its adversaries?  There is Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, plus the others already mentioned.

There are prophecies going out that the war as described in Zechariah 12 will break out in December.  Although the winter is not the usual time to begin a war, it is possible that a war could break out then, but not the one described by Zechariah:  that war leads to the Day of Atonements and salvation of ‘all Israel’, when they see Yeshua/Jesus whom they pierced, and He gives them the spirit of grace and supplication to weep and mourn over their historical rejection and hatred of the One who is their very King and Savior.  

Too much attention is being given by even evangelical Christians to the Mayan calendar, which has the end of the world coming at the beginning of this winter.  Believers in the truth of God, and who know His calendar, should have good news to tell those who do not know what is happening, whose religions leave them stranded.  If we ourselves are deceived, how can we point others to The Way?

A war as desribed in Psalm 83, where all the Muslim nations surrounding Israel come together to try to finish  her off, may be coming soon.  The fall  of Damascus, as described in Isaiah 17, may also be looming in the not-so-distant future.  It is interesting to note that in both of these events the people will fear YHVH, the Holy One of Israel, God Most High.  He will act in such a way that the god of the Muslims will be shown as unable to satisfy the deepest longings of those who are under his dominion.  These people are captive slaves, and Jesus has come to set them free!  The Jewish people will fear the LORD, when they once again see Him powerfully act on their behalf to save them from annihilation, beyond what they or anyone else expected.  From this, they, as in  days of old, could seek to appease Him who chose them for His own special people and inheritance.  In every revival that we read about in the Old Testament, the people found the book of the Law and realized that their God was not pleased with them, and they offered sacrifices to  Him.  Could the ‘holy place’ which Yeshua referred to in Matthew 24 be constructed as an outcome of such wars, as God acts on behalf of His holy name to make Himself known and to put some things in place for the fulfillment of His great plan of the ages, “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven and which are on Earth” ?

ROCKETS BURSTING IN AIR AND ON GROUND – 12 Mar 2012

Israel in the south (Negev regioin) is undergoing daily rocket and missile attacks from Gaza for the fourth day now, with air-raid sirens going off during the day and the middle of the night.  We just had an attack about 1/2 hour ago as I have been writing this letter, plus one around 3:00 in the morning.  Schools are still closed, and other public places are opening and closing as they see fit.  One missile landed and damaged a school yesterday, but thank God that no one was there.  The Iron Dome missile defense system is doing a very good job of intercepting many of the rockets, but it is not capable of stopping them all, and the one that got through to the school yesterday happened because of a technical malfunction just at the time of the attack.  There have been reports of shock and property damage from some of the missiles which have landed.

After four ‘red alerts’ on Friday night into Saturday morning, large public gatherings were not allowed on the Shabbat.  We went ahead with our congregational service for whoever would come.  Mothers with young children (especially if the husband was away) were encouraged not to come.  Thanks to those who did come, plus a group from the UK, and another from the US, and some locals from other congregations whose service was cancelled, we had a full house for the guest speaker from Texas!  The Lord really blessed us with His peace and joy.  No sirens were heard until later in the afternoon, well after everyone had gotten back home in peace.  We will have to see how things develop through this week as to how it may affect our service this Shabbat (Sat.).  Please pray for the Israeli government and military to know what to do, and that the God of Israel would intervene to put everyone in fear of Him, that many would repent and be saved, and that the meek would be glad for His name’s sake.

Please also remember the Christian believers in the Gaza strip, and others of the general population who oppose what their leaders and terror groups are doing.  They are surely more nervous and afraid than the one million Israelis facing the on-going attacks.  In Gaza there are no bomb shelters for the general populace.  Their government and terrorist leaders do not take much official concern to protect them.  The Islamic jihadist spirit boasts of loving death as much as we love life, and they send out their people to blow up themselves and as many others with them as they can.  Their God is not a Father, and he has no son or other children.  Pray for many Muslims in Gaza and elsewhere to turn to the God of Israel, who is the holy and righteous Father, and “whose love is seen in that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the propitiation for our sins”. (1Jn 4:9-10)

GILAD SHALIT AND THE FACE OF GOD – 13 Oct 2011

On the eve of the Jewish celebration of the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, which is a time of rejoicing for the children of Israel who have blessed the God of Israel for preserving and identifying with them as His people, the news has been full of the deal made with Hamas to release the Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, after more than five years of being held captive without ANY visitations deemed lawful and ethical under conventions legislated by world bodies, such as by the Red Cross under the Geneva Convention.

For his release, Israel has agreed to release more than 1000 Palestinian prisoners who have been involved in terrorist attacks on Israel and her citizens and friends.  All are happy for Gilad and for his family; many are concerned at the price paid and the risks involved.

I am reminded of Jacob, who was reminded of his name being changed to Israel, when he was confronted with once again meeting his brother Esau/Edom, after about 20 years from their last encounter.  Jacob was rightly afraid of his brother’s intentions, and it took a wrestling match with the Angel YHVH, who crippled Jacob in his own strength, to enable Israel to go forward.  We read all this in Genesis chapters 32 and 33. 

When Jacob finally saw Esau, Jacob bowed down seven times.  Then the mothers and the children all bowed down before Esau.  For all the fear, Jacob saw in Esau’s face the Face of God — a human being created in the image of God, just as he was.  The LORD was teaching Jacob/Israel that it was not his own righteousness, nor Esau’s unrighteousness, which was at issue, but rather the righteousness of God to whom both needed to be reconciled.  Jacob was looking for favor in Esau’s eyes — to see God’s Face.

It is clear from the account at this meeting, and from the after-history of both peoples and nations, that Esau/Edom never accepted that the Land of Canaan — the Promised Land — belonged to Jacob/Israel by the sovereign choice of YHVH God as an integral part of the covenant promises to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob

The State of Israel today cares, in general, about the value of life.  Her heritage comes from the living God of the living, even in her unbelief and rebellion against Him.  Without normal common sense, she is risking her future peace and security by releasing murderers for a lone soldier who was captured and certainly mistreated — at the very least psycologically.

With fear and trembling — and a mixture of faith and bravado — the Israeli government and the Jewish people are once again ‘bowing down’ to their “brothers”, who are still not reconciled to the land being Israel’s, and who are still determined in their spirits to kill and wipe out Israel from being a nation.

Israel does not have a clear conscience, because deep inside they also know that they are not just in all their dealings, and even deeper inside, God has left His own wound for the Jewish people’s responsibility and guilt in the crucifixion of their brother — Yeshua/Jesus, the first-born Heir of God’s vineyard.

Could it be that the Holy Spirit, in God’s dealings with His people even in their blindness and hardness of heart, is working in Israel what Messiah Jesus is requiring from His Church/His Body with eyes open and from a willing heart?:   

Mt 5:21-26

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause[b] shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.”

Israel is forever being blamed as a scapegoat, and unjustly required to apologize and to accept blame for so many of the world’s troubles.  These accusations come from those with a bitter root and a murderous grudge, envying what is not theirs, and threatening any one who would hold them to account.  Their hatred is so obsessive that manifests itself in this:  if we can not have it, neither will you.

For all this, the Holy One of Israel calls His people to a different standard as HIS witnesses.  If one in covenant with Him thinks that someone has something against them, it is for that one to go to the ‘possibly’ offended person and ask forgiveness.  Israel’s right to exist is from the one true God, but not in her own right:  it is CHRIST who died to confirm the promises of God, and He is long-suffering in His love to get them to return back to Him, even through their fear of losing all.  Such an unequal exchange — one for the many — may be a one-off event, and the war continues until the coming again of the Messiah Jesus, the LORD of Hosts.

The true Face of God is seen in the Person of Jesus Christ, and through His willing submission to the Father’s will, peace is obtained by all who believe.